Working hard...

I keep working hard throughout the second precious week of my spring holiday. If I could just disappear from work and stay in the garden for ever!

Saturday 29th September - Day Eight of my Holiday

There is morning mist and the air outside is quite cool. Stephen is home today, so I will be able to ward off any feelings of loneliness. How can I possibly be lonely anyway? I am surrounded by the most beautiful spring flower displays ever, I have cat and dog company, books, friends, and pretty good health. Today there will be none of this 'lonely' nonsense.

Dog Nose:
Here is a thunbnail picture of that famous dog nose.

I've just watched Taj-dog doing his early morning cruise, following his nose. His evenings are spent in worry and envy that Sifter the cat has caught and abandoned some rodent or rabbit. His first morning actions are to bustle in behind the set of pots by the small door to check out this spot for abandoned prey. Then his nose takes him to the next closest cat places.

Poor old Dog!

 In the hay barn.
Sifter the Cat

Poor old dog - forever coming second to a tabby cat, and caring so much about it. Sifter has nothing to prove - his pet self esteem is of the highest possible. Nothing that Taj-dog does or thinks of doing motivates Sifter in the slightest. Sifter is supreme, and he knows it.

I have a major job today which actually involves removing some scruffy plants near the Oak Tree seat. These are small and strappy, but have outgrown their place along the top of the low stone retaining wall. They are too messy and bushy, so are destined for mass planting in the dry of the Wattle Tree Garden, where the ultimate rejects go. If they survive in there, then so be it. I'm thinking of trying a gentler planting along the stones - we'll see. I'll try now writing a small list.

Small List :

Then I propose to lay mulch carefully around the newly weeded Frisbee Border, in memory of the great Edna Walling who was using pea straw in 1938. I may follow this with a trip to the river to get stones, a quick weeding session in the Pond Garden (where those drama queens, the gunnera, are starting to unfurl). There is bound to be more gum rubbish to burn - when you have gum trees you always have gum rubbish. How can I possibly get lonely today?

 Drama queens!
gunnera unfurling


I wonder if 7.45pm is too early to retire for the night? I am really tired. I did most of the above except the burning (it was too windy). We seriously need rain. I have removed the scruffy plants, though not all of them, and dead-ended the dog-path which passed by them. The pond garden is weeded, although there are some large grasses which need digging out. There is one more rugosa to shift. I am exhausted and intend to retire right now with the Lord of the Rings to read. I didn't get lonely today.

Sunday 30th September - Day Nine

Last night, Sifter the cat teased Taj-dog mercilessly with a very slow patio ritual concerning some large prey. Taj-dog was inside watching through the glass doors, nose hard up against the miniscule gap in the doors, sniffing, squeaking and barking. It was a long tease. This morning first thing the dog raced out and snuffled desperately around on the patio. Sifter wins again.

Today the ewes and lambs are fenced off in the Frisbee Lawn to eat the grass there, so I can take some cute photos. The lambs are often grouped together - we call it the lamb creche - and zoom up and down and around in a crazy bouncing game at dusk.

Edna Walling's Words

I've been thinking since I read Edna Walling's words of 1939 gardening wisdom about gardening writing (which I seem to do a lot of). There really isn't anything new to say, yet every season we gardeners need to write our personal stories. We also spend lots of time reading what others have written. I think that it's a symbolic fight against being insignificant in the big world. In our gardens we create a small world in which we are important. We can counter any big world stories, whose content and messages are so far outside us, by writing and reading about very small things. Stories written about world economies are balanced by serious essays concerning the bargain bin at the local nursery. Social policies which affect millions of people living on huge tracts of land are balanced by gardening philosophies and resolutions concerning 30 square meters of new border.

In the day to day details of gardening we can feel quite lonely, but we know that gardeners everywhere all over the world are feeling exactly the same. We all share the same dreams, and by talking to each other we can feel more significant in the world. Edna Walling - look what you started!

 These are the species type, I think.
hostas in the Apple Tree Border

Today Stephen and I went to visit an open garden. This garden had a lot of smallish trees in borders with mower-wide grass paths between. Although their land area was similar to Mooseys, the feeling was quite different. I envied the owners all their secret shut-in places and that round every corner there was a sight unseen. But I missed the sweeping lawns. Back home I raced outside to shift the Oak Tree Seat. Now it is positioned by the water race at the end of a dog-path, a dead-end in fact - the first such in the whole of the garden! A rugosa called Henry Hudson has been pulled out of the lower Wattle Tree Garden and planted nearby.

I have plans for extending the garden between the glass-house and the water race. The soil in here is sandy, but well enough away from the trees, and I may plant the new rhododendrons here, with appropriate additions to the soil. The JAM Garden seat will also be moved, and hopefully the top of the Wattle Tree Garden will get a more mysterious point of entry.

Monday 1st October - Day Ten

I have spent 3 hours clearing and shifting some ailing rhododendrons at the top of the Wattle Woods. No amount of watering could account for the bad positioning of these plants, so they have now been shifted away from the greedy trees. I am going to slice off some pieces of the pond gunnera to plant here at the water's edge, and also plan to move the crinkly ligularia (a sneaky watering nightmare) closer to the water. Our weather continues without any sign of rain, and it's time that my plantings became more water-wise. I'm writing this during my lunch break, and now am off back to see what else I shift. It's a fabulous secluded spot to be gardening, with the water race bubbling by, and Rooster Bridge certainly looks more and more artistic with these nearby new plantings. I will return.

 Called Martian Invader!
Crinkly Ligularia

Two more hours and the new area is mulched and semi-planted. Now the hoses are on to encourage the plants that they haven't really been shifted at all. I hope that the crinkly ligularia is happier here. It was lost in its old position, not easy to see, forever needing water. I still have the new rhododendrons to situate, but that's for another day.

Tuesday 2nd October - Day Eleven

A day of garden rest, as I went to work for most of the day. Temperatures were high for spring (26 degrees C) and I arrived home pleased with the way my garden was looking. I spent a couple of hours just watering pots, shifting hoses and checking on the progress of the seeds in the glass-house. By my optimistic reckoning there is only one border now which needs weeding (I can't believe that I just wrote that!).

Wednesday 3rd October - Day Twelve

I think I'd better go out there right away and weed that 'one border' right away before reality and disappointment hits. It's the Island Bed, whose middle is full of nice things (self-sown tall blue cornflowers) and countless not-so-nice unknown and unnamed weeds (all of which have probably set next year's seed by now). I still can't believe I wrote that fateful sentence. One more border... Aargh! I'm off!

Hours later... it is done. In fact I've been weeding all day, and am proudly tired. Smaller details in my garden are being looked after and nurtured, and this is a good thing. Some of the dull cherry aquilegias are in flower near the glass-house. No sign as yet of the new variegated Elm tree waking up - I hope it is still asleep and not deceased.

Now Taj-dog is off to the vet for a sore paw check.

Thursday 4th October - Day Thirteen

Taj-dog's paw is fine, but we have to spread tea-tree oil on it to discourage him from licking it. My new Neem Oil rose spray seems to have killed the aphids (though death could be due to drowning, as I was rather generous with it).

I am going outside rather late today - it's 10.30 in the morning - blame it on school work. I'm actually not sure what I'll do first. Perhaps it's time for a wandering cup of coffee to check out all the new arrivals in the garden. We irrigated the over the water race gardens last night, this is really early in the season to need to do this. Hmm...

I'm back, 2 hours later - it's too hot! Temperatures must be in the mid-twenties again - please rain!

Friday 5th October - Day Fourteen

Last night Sifter the cat did the big tease again - slowly munching a nocturnal meal on the patio in full view of the dog. I feel so sorry for Taj-dog (snuffling and squeaking at the glass door). Sifter is doing a great farm cat job, though.

Blue Cornflowers :
Blue cornflowers are the simplest of garden annuals to grow - yet they are so effective.

Today I had to go to work, but was able to garden late in the day. The sun was still beating down. I pricked out some blue cornflowers and twelve strong courgette seedlings (they went into individual pots). I am always highly principled early in the seed raising season - no seedlings are left un-potted - nothing is left to shrivel and die. The path behind the glass-house is a very pretty path, now that the rugosa foliage has grown and patches of forget-me-nots line its edge (and now that I have weeded it).

An excavator came today to dig out some ground (the garage is getting a new bay). Humph... in less than an hour grass and all was scooped off and dumped behind the hay barn. It could have been a new garden bed. I feel very envious of the garage.

 Every couple of years I chop this bush severely, yet it always seems to forgive and forget.
flowering mexican orange blossom

Saturday 6th October - Day Fifteen

My holiday has only two days to go - I've had a wonderful fortnight. The Island Bed is looking particularly beautiful. The Mexican orange blossom is almost flowering, the crab apple at the corner is in blossom and some white tulips are blooming. The clump of bergenias in the front continue flowering - they have given much joy this spring - and a soft flax glows golden and red behind them. Even the Toe Toe looks fresh and tidy. I love those bergenias, though. And in a completely different border the first rose is blooming (a Canary Bird?) - arching branches covered with small yellow flowers. I saw it from the upstairs window.

The annual plant sale is on today at the local golf club, so I will take my spare courgettes there, and see what I can buy in return (hee hee).

Hostas :
Hostas grow well in the Moosey Garden - no snails or slugs!

I have returned. The cleaner had already 'cleaned out' the hostas an hour before the sale was opened to the public, and there were rather a lot of courgettes in pots there already. I added my lot (mine were the only ones with two per pot), found a few choice things from other locals' gardens, bought a heap of plates to go under the pots, and returned. Now I am planting - vege seeds, potatoes, pink phloxes (please don't get mildew!) and small carexes - in the most perfect planting weather (bright, warm and overcast). I am sorry that my gardening holiday is so nearly over. But hey - how I have appreciated these past two weeks. I feel I've caught up with me again.

Later, apres gardening. The garden is so beautiful. I don't mean that what I've designed or decided or done is beautiful. It's the season, the colours, the warm gentle days, and the sense of growth everywhere. It's almost too beautiful, if that's possible.

Sunday 7th October - Day Sixteen

Today was the last day of my holiday. I didn't do much in the garden. I burnt some rubbish, then pricked out lots of seedlings in the glass-house (the weather was rather overcast, so this activity was sensibly timed). I now have rather a lot of cornflower seedlings, a few white clary sages, and quite a lot of Cosmos.